New Learners of the 21st Century

Though transliteracy isn’t just about the digital world, there is no denying that the rapid changes that occur as we enter the digital millennium are driving a big part of the research into transliteracy. To that end, I’m really looking forward to the upcoming PBS documentary Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century. You may have already marked it on your calendars but, in case you haven’t, the documentary airs Sunday, February 13, at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT.

Whether this documentary adds anything new or just rehashes the same-old, same-old, I’m curious to see what people think. Click the image below for a short preview…

Posted in Digital Literacy, Education, Videos. Tags: . Comments Off

Social Media and the End of Gender

In her Ted talk, Social Media and the End of Gender, Johanna Blakley, the Deputy Director of the Norman Lear Center, does not so much predict the end of gender but more so the end of media created stereotypes of gender. She believes that social media will “free us from absurd assumptions about gender.” She believes this change is possible because social media transcends the old demographics that media corporations use to sell culture back to us. Through social media, people aggregate according to interests and values rather than overly general categories of age and gender. She points out that, worldwide, women outnumber men in use of social media technology, which could drive a change in the media landscape.

What’s interesting for our discussion is her analysis of how companies are beginning to look at how individuals use social media and the recognition that old media types are being reconsidered in light of how people interact with it. Most importantly, she describes a major culture shift in which members of social media groups, because they aggregate around tastes and interests, no longer needing the help of a media company to navigate the ways in which they spend their time and money.

Part of the definition of transliteracy put forth by Sue Thomas, et al, includes a very similar concept:

The literacies (digital, numerate, oral) may be different, but the transliteracies (social, economic, political) often transect them in similar ways, depending on cultural context. For example,  in recent years we have begun to switch from searching for information in encyclopedias, indices and catalogues to querying the kinds of data collections that existed before books–that is to say, we are asking each other.

In other words: “knowledge networks are inherently people-to-people.”

What Blakley’s talk also gets at is the notion that Thomas, et al, develop based on the ideas of Bernard Stiegler. Stiegler proffered that discussions of technology are “polarized between anxiety and euphoria” and that his response is a refusal “to distance technology from life; and to suggest that human individuation and technology have always had a transductive relationship.”

Social media, as Blakley describes, allows technology to return some level of human individuation. Although media companies still monitor user behavior, they can do so in a more respectful way because they are monitoring actual interests and values and not just making assumptions based on broad demographic categories.

Libraries use social media mainly to promote collections and services, but they can also use social media to aggregate students by meaningful categories, such as research interests, rather than overly broad categories like “millennials,” which may do more of a disservice to students by not exploring a more insightful understanding of their interests and values.

Information Literacy Videos

Collaborative Consumption

One thing which excites me about Transliteracy is, because of its newness, the skills involved are not well-defined. It seems like many people interested in the topic have an “I know it when I see it” approach to identifying skills and these skew toward computer-related skills, which is entirely legitimate since the need to be transliterate most obviously manifests itself when confronted with a new technology. Of course, Transliteracy involves a whole swath of cognitive skills that transcend navigating new technology.

One factor that suddenly seems, to me, so essential to Transliteracy, and not, perhaps, a skill per se, is the issue of trust. This insight dawned on me while watching Rachel Botsman’s TED presentation. Because Transliteracy often concerns itself with social media, the development of trust becomes very important. To a certain extent, trust is a teachable skill and librarians invest a great deal of effort in instilling notions of trust. How do we trust that a web site is reliable? But beyond that, individuals need to learn how and when other individuals are trustworthy. In a way, this notion of trust seems an obvious component of Transliteracy, but it only recently dawned on me how essential it is to our discussion.

Watch what Botsman has to say about trust. Does it seem like trust is an important element of our conversation? How teachable is trust? Can the level of trust she talks about be taught or are we relying on a cultural shift?

Transliteracy and Participatory Librarianship

Check out this talk Buffy Hamilton created for an event involving the Hall County School District (a sister school district here in Georgia) and Dell, Inc.  on transliteracy and librarianship

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 258 other followers

%d bloggers like this: